Dogs do magic at the airport as Rwanda fights Covid-19

The ultimate purpose of the project is a rapid check of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients both asymptomatic and symptomatic, at KIA, breaking the propagation chain and curtailing the COVID-19 disease outbreak, says Dr. Albert Tuyishime, Chief of (IHDPC) Institute of HIV/AIDS Disease Prevention and Control at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC).

Dogs are popular pets and can sniff bombs, narcotics, and infections. Harry is a working dog. Rwandan species-detection dog. When he gets to the sniffer containers at Kigali International Airport (KIA) and RNP training facilities, he’s permitted to work. Working with him is fun. “Sars-CoV-2 Detector” is the game’s name. It is Simple, as he sits if he sees a positive individual. In the Rwandan research, the dog cannot approach humans directly.

A cotton pad is used to give out small samples. The pad is placed in a “made in Rwanda” cone, and the dog quickly responds with over 90% accuracy. Reward? Simply playtime or a snack. He wasn’t talented. Hans Ebbers, RNP dog handlers, and his company’s KynoScience equipment taught him. Peggy, Djon, and Billy are also present to play. 200 samples per dog per hour of “gaming time” Wow, huh?

Rwanda isn’t alone. Dubai and Germany follow suit. Rwanda is an African pioneer in this study. The project’s goals were efficiency and excellent service with fewer resources. RT-PCR is costly and time-consuming (50-100 USD) (24-48 hours). In order to quickly identify patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection in big gatherings, this study explores new testing methods.

The central objective of this project is a rapid checking of persons infected with SARS-CoV-2, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, at KIA, in order to break the chain and contain the COVID-19 pandemic from transmission, says Dr. Albert Tuyishime, Head of (IHDPC) Institute of HIV/AIDS Disease Prevention and Control at Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC). He says that the DDTS will lower the time and cost of SARS-CoV-2 passenger testing at KIA.

Germany provides training and research assistance for this initiative. RBC and German Ambassador to Rwanda Dr. Thomas Kurz signed an MoU in November 2021.

Partnership information

Ambassador Kurz informed Taarifa in January 2019 that the experiment began in Europe in June 2020, in Germany, where sniffing dogs may identify Covid-19 infections in people. “They began performing research and it was a successful project,” he added, adding that it made the media because many nations were interested in it.

“Rwanda wanted our knowledge and competence. That was the beginning point, and now we’re almost there. We’ve brought canines and had a trainer, a specialist, teach them for a few weeks. Four sniffer dogs are trained. This project will be functioning shortly, I suppose.”

The ambassador applauded Rwanda’s administration for handling the outbreak properly. As partners, we’re proud of the sniffer dogs initiative, a small but visible representation of our work.

RBC will work with Prof. Dr. Holger Volk, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover and the German military dog school.

In partnership with the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, research was done to see whether German service dogs could detect the new coronavirus SARS-Schweres Akutes Respiratorisches Syndrom-CoV-2 from the scent of saliva samples. The results were overwhelming and accurate.

Rwanda utilized “green” RNP dog handlers who were not experienced with coronavirus dog detection in their investigation.

A report on the dogs’ performance is forthcoming. Dr. Tuyishime says the dogs’ work is “amazing.”

If your covid-19 test results are given quickly in Rwanda, the dogs may be working behind the scenes.